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Hangi for Hungry Harlequins

Thu, 02/06/2022, 3:37 am
Rugby Vic Media
by Rugby Vic Media

It's not a celebration unless food is involved, and at Harlequins, Pasifika Week means the kitchen is going to be humming.

The big week culminates in Harlequins 1st Grade tackling Moorabbin in the Rugby Victoria livestreamed 'Match of the Round,' but for the club Chair of Welfare, Jose Thomas, there's plenty of work to be done beyond the football field.

Rugby Victoria (RV): Tell us about your role at Quins? How long you've worked there and what your job entails?

Jose Thomas (JT): I have been part of the Quins family since moving to Melbourne in 2007-8 and was the head of S&C.

The transition in the last 3 seasons to Chair of Welfare was something I felt the club needed, especially during the challenging times over covid lockdowns in Melbourne. My role is to create support systems, awareness and strategies that build a more inclusive caring and safe environment at our club for all members, players and visitors.

RV: Chair of Welfare sounds like a big job! What's the most rewarding aspect of your role?

JT: Knowing that we offer a safe place to feel welcomed into our club for all walks of life and provide a support system to deal with child protection, inclusiveness, discrimination and harassment. 

RV: Why is this week important for the Club?

JT: Pasifika (inclusives of Maori) makes up a large percentage of our player and family participation at Harlequins, yet the Pasifika population is a very small percentage of the state's population. It's important that we celebrate and acknowledge this achievement and respect each other's cultures with simple things like learning Pasifika greetings. 

RV: What events and activities do you have planned for the week and what are you hoping this will achieve?

JT: Language awareness is important, especially since our national team has a high percentage of Pasifika players and supporters, so understanding basic greetings, vowels and pronunciations shows great respect.

Throughout the week we have highlighted different island languages and also created a short video of our community. This will conclude on the Saturday with cultures celebrating together with unique foods, island songs, costumes, kava and more.

RV: What role can sporting clubs (like Harlequins) play in fostering a sense of inclusion?

JT: The rugby fraternity is a special one and what has always made our sport great is inclusiveness.

What we have done at Harlequins is to create an even safer environment for this to foster. There are so many support systems, professionals and volunteers that can assist.

If you can see past the "trying to stay alive at club land"  and more about how we keep our current members safe, welcomed and provide more security, this will only bring more members and players down.

RV: We hear whispers there's a hangi this weekend...Tell us why coming together and sharing a meal is such an important custom for communities?

JT: Food has always been life in Pasifika, historically it's our way to come together as family and friends and tell stories after working on the plantation or on the ocean.

It's a traditionthat brings villagers, chiefs, kids and workers together. 

Family, and always sharing, is a big cornerstone of Pasifika life.

Harlequins vs Moorabbin will be livestreamed on the Rugby Victoria Facebook page from 3pm this Saturday.

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